Do not let your hearts be troubled (Jn 14:1). In this world you will have trouble, …. I have overcome the world. (Jn 16:33). Troubled hearts we seem to have a plenty. Every news bulletin I encounter adds to the catalogue of woes. The good news we long for is constantly being overshadowed by the bad we fear; or is it?
This weekend sees the Coronation of King Charles III. He has, of course, been King since September but now is the moment to seal this through the very public act of The Coronation. At its heart, Saturday’s Coronation will be an act of commitment to service, and a recognition that such a commitment can only truly be discharged with divine help.
As he spoke the words I opened with, Jesus knew that his arrest and execution was imminent, and he was trying to prepare his disciples for what lay ahead. It is said that, when you are up to your neck in alligators it is difficult to remember that the task is emptying the swamp. At times, our natural survival instinct tells us that long-term planning is pointless; there won’t be a long term if we don’t sort out the here and now. Faced with Jesus’ arrest and execution; I imagine that the disciples, fearing that they could be next; couldn’t think much beyond getting out of Jerusalem in one piece. It is this fear, as much as anything else, which Jesus’ words speak to.
Aware of his imminent arrest, Jesus had washed the feet of his disciples (a deliberate act of service) and was now trying to lead them beyond the next 72 hours. In my Father’s house, there are many dwelling places. (Jn 14:2) Jesus, the one they call Lord, a title usually restricted to Kings and Emperors, had just performed the role of the lowest slave. He was about to make the ultimate act of service: dying that they, and we, might live. These events, which we have just commemorated at the end of Holy Week, do two things. First they model leadership at every level; we are called to follow the example of our servant king. More importantly, perhaps, they show God’s loving commitment. I go, says Jesus, to prepare a place for you …. that where I am, you may be also. Investing that much in our welfare, Jesus is not about to abandon us lightly.
Saturday’s ceremonies will, I’m sure, be spectacular; another unique occasion. Beyond the pomp and ceremony of all that we watch, remember: Jesus our Lord came not to be served but to serve. In his life he sets us his example to follow, in his death and resurrection he gives us reason to trust. Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world (Jn 16:33).
Rev’d Philip Payne Easter 5; Coronation of King Charles III
The Notice Sheet for 7th May can e found here